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Juve's defeat has all-but confirmed that Pirlo's side are OUT of the title race

Published on: 20 January 2021

Juventus' dismal defeat by rivals Inter Milan produced the verdict that has been coming for some time: the Old Lady is out of the title race.

The chase for the Scudetto is increasingly becoming a two-horse race, and the gap between the champions and the two teams from Milan has increased to seven points.

That will no doubt be of serious concern to club president Andrea Agnelli. Andrea Pirlo's side reeks of a dull, tired and motivation-deficient group of players - there is simply no other way of describing this team, who are lacking any real philosophy or identity.

Pirlo's trust in a number of players is threatening to be his undoing. That, coupled with his evident lack of coaching experience, has made the once-assured director of play transform into a confused, forlorn individual on the touchline.

If in need of any evidence to epitomise Juve's lack of cohesion this campaign, just look to Inter's second goal on Sunday night. It was one long ball from deep that cut through the Old Lady's shoddy defence and Nicolo Barella emphatically dispatched. An unprepared defence is unforgivable for a top club like Juventus.

Thus far, Pirlo has received more criticism than praise. In truth, scepticism was rife from the day he was appointed, given his lack of coaching experience at the top level.

His team is not tactically astute and when Cristiano Ronaldo is tired, Juventus will inevitably drop points, such is the heavy reliance on the 35-year-old superstar these days.

Juve have a chance to grab a piece of silverware when they face Napoli in the Italian Super Cup tonight but dreams of a 10th successive Scudetto are slipping away and fan confidence in the legendary former player is waning, as it did for Maurizio Sarri and Massimiliano Allegri, with chief football officer Fabio Paratici accused of not building a team capable of winning Serie A.

Pirlo was unable to hide his disappointment following his side's latest under-par display. 'We did not go out on the pitch, the attitude was wrong from the beginning,' he told Sky Sport Italia.

'This defeat is bad. It's the worst match since I've been here. We got our attitude wrong from the start, if you don't have anger and determination to win duels then it becomes difficult.

'None of us he was thinking of a defeat like that, I take responsibility'.

This Juventus outfit does not even seem to have the strength to compete in the Champions League. The fact they do not currently occupy a position in the top four in Serie A is a stark warning that this campaign could end very badly indeed.

Midfield woes, peculiar selection decisions and an exhausted Ronaldo are plaguing Pirlo with doubts growing.

ARON RAMSEY AND ADRIEN RABIOT FLOP IN MIDFIELD

The two free transfers have been in Turin for over 12 months now and still supporters wait for them to impose the quality expected from them. The duo started at the San Siro but Pirlo's experiment backfired and he hauled the pair off just before the hour mark.

Former Arsenal man Ramsey was ineffective at both ends of the pitch and struggled to handle Arturo Vidal, Barella and Achraf Hakimi, who all had the beating of the Welshman for pace.

Doubts over Ramsey have become difficult to shackle - how can the club justify paying over £6.5m a year to a 30-year-old who is never 100 per cent fit? The answer to that question will likely come this summer, with Juve expected to find a suitor for him.

Like Ramsey, Rabiot is another difficult case for the club. The 25-year-old appears lethargic and is struggling to inject any sort of charisma in his game. He lacks the hunger to make a difference in attack and has been found wanting across the midfield.

Despite the size disadvantage, Vidal and Barella showed more fight in the centre of the park and Rabiot was also beaten for pace on a number of occasions. Serie A is a different level to Ligue 1, where Rabiot would saunter to the title season on season, and his performances to date indicate that he is not ready to swim with the sharks of Italian football.

DEJAN KULUSEVSKI ALWAYS EXCLUDED DESPITE HIS PROMISE

The perennial exclusion of summer signing Dejan Kulusevski continues to confuse supporters.

The Swedish midfielder offers the sort of dynamism and verve that is severely lacking from this team, and it is increasingly difficult to justify the selection of Ramsey - who walks around the pitch as if he is playing a summer friendly - over the 20-year-old.

Kulusevski should be regarded as an asset, not a burden by Pirlo. Juve need creativity and imagination and they have it right in front of them, the fact that Pirlo does not consider the youngster indispensable is puzzling to say the least.

CRISTIANO RONALDO IS EXHAUSTED

There is no doubt that Ronaldo is fundamental to any real ambitions on the part of Juventus. But in the last three games, Serie A's top scorer has showed clear signs of fatigue.

Sky Sport cameras picked up signs of irritation from the Portuguese megastar during the defeat at Inter, and the incessant nature of this post-Covid season seems to be having an effect on the goal machine.

But Juventus, quite frankly, are addicted to Ronaldo and when he does not feature the whole team suffers. Pirlo has freed his star man from any defensive duties, but in so doing Ronaldo has found himself too isolated and is forced to come deep just to get a touch of the ball.

FRABOTTA DISASTER

If Juve are to do any business this month, they would do well to recall Luca Pellegrini from his loan spell at Genoa. After all, the young full-back would certainly offer more than Gianluca Frabotta.

The 21-year-old started on Sunday but was outclassed down the left, with Hakimi, Barella and Vidal all having their way with him.

Pirlo moved Danilo into right-back to make way for Frabotta, but the Italy Under-21 international was clearly weighed down by the pressure of expectation from such a big game.

Both of Inter's goals came from his side and his withdrawal due to an ankle issue only compounded his misery on what was a very disappointing showing. He may be a youngster but the cold truth of it is that Frabotta's inexperience created a tactical nightmare for Pirlo and may well have cost them their 10th straight Scudetto.

Source: m.allfootballapp.com

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